Park cleanup services cost SF nearly $1M last year, prompting nighttime park closures

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesWith the San Francisco skyline in the background

San Francisco’s approved plan to shutter public parks overnight is primarily intended to prevent a repeat of last year’s labor costs to repair vandals’ handiwork and clean up illegal dumping.

Vandalism abatement, mostly painting over graffiti, cost $365,000, and $378,000 went to Golden Park crews to clean up the dumping.

Add to that another $182,732 in materials and supplies — 50 percent of labor costs based on the industry rule of thumb — and $27,539 in landfill fees, and the grand total to address vandalism and illegal dumping in the parks last fiscal year was $953,000.

Those are the numbers that Recreation and Park Department officials are using to make their case for the overnight park closure from midnight until 5 a.m.

During the past seven years, using the same metrics, the average cost was $1 million, they say.

In 68 pages of recorded incidents in the last fiscal year, nearly all were for painting over graffiti. An hour of painting costs at least $76. In total, there were 4,556 hours of vandalism-related work, including plumbing, metal work and carpentry, which averages out to be $80 per hour.

The incidents took place in a number of different locations and costs vary widely.

Examples included one hour of painting for Rochambeau Playground basketball courts for $76 and a $456.38 painting of Stern Grove bathrooms.

Some ran thousands of dollars, with the most expensive incident being a repainting of Mission Dolores hardscape at $12,152.

Recreation and Park officials say the closure is no “silver bullet” but will curb the vandalism and free up resources to improve the park system.

“If we can pick up $100,000 in the first year and $300,000 in the next year — or whatever it is then — that’s progress,” said Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Sarah Ballard. She added that this is a “common sense solution” and San Francisco is “the only major city in the country without park hours.”

But homeless advocates, like the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, say there are more humane ways to tackle vandalism. An untold number of homeless people find a safe haven in the public parks at night, even though it is currently illegal to camp or sleep in the public spaces.

There are an estimated 6,000 homeless people sleeping outside on any given night in San Francisco and 1,339 in shelter beds.

In a 6-5 vote on Nov. 5, the Board of Supervisors approved the legislation, whose main sponsor is Supervisor Scott Wiener.

Today is the second and final vote, which is usually perfunctory — and then Mayor Ed Lee has 10 days to sign the bill or veto it, which seems unlikely.

Mayoral spokeswoman Christine Falvey said that Lee “supports park hours in concept for public safety reasons” but is waiting to see the final version approved by the board before rendering judgment.

Vandalism problem

The Recreation and Park Department’s vandalism case for an overnight park closure citywide for fiscal year 2012-13:

$953,257: Total cost to clean up vandalism and dumping Vandalism

$365,464: Labor total

$182,732: Materials; cost estimating industry standard of 50 percent of labor costs

Illegal Dumping

$27,540: Annual landfill fee from Golden Gate Park

$377,520: Cost for two Golden Gate Park clean-up crews seven days a week

Source: Recreation and Park Department

Parks Cost Summary FY 12-13

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